Have a Stress-Free Summer

Students can recharge now for the fall semester.

Posted Jun 12, 2018

The college year is over until late August or September. You may have had a stressful year of classes, choosing a college major (or switching from one major to a new one), holding down a part-time job, taking quizzes and tests, writing papers, and worrying about your grade point average. Well, now you have summer, a break of sorts to recharge your psychological batteries for the fall. What are some things you can do this summer to mentally and physically regroup and de-stress yourself?

Give your smart phone a vacation. Don’t spend all your time checking or participating in social media. It will still be there. Taking a break or making a commitment to checking in only once per day can be a great way to reduce your reliance on (addiction to?) your cell-phone. Many people report feeling much better about themselves when they are not constantly checking.

Get outside and enjoy some green space. A variety of studies show that being out of doors and encountering nature—trees, plants, gardens—and green space can be rejuvenating. It sounds simple, but a walk outdoors in a quiet park can do wonders for your attitude. And it’s free!

Reconnect with your pet. If you have a cat or a dog, then you know that being with an affectionate animal can enhance your outlook. Why? Well, researchers suggest all kinds of reasons. Dogs and cats are cute—that is, they often have infantile features like babies and children—encourage us to love them as child substitutes. Moreover, dogs, especially, provide unconditional positive regard: They are always happy to see and greet you—and to be with you. They never tire of your company, which can make anyone feel good.

Volunteer. You may have a part-time or full-time job this summer, which can be a new source of friends and expand your social network. But you might also consider volunteering some of your free time for a good cause. Your local community probably has lots of settings that would welcome your helping hands. You could become a Big Brother or Big Sister to a child, for example.

Go on vacation. A good vacation is more of a state of mind than anything else. It need not be an expensive trip to a distant place—it can be as simple as going to a public pool or sitting in your yard (of course, Paris or Rome are destinations, too). The point is to take a break from your normal routine and appreciate having the time off. There may be some local sites in your city or town you’ve never visited—or perhaps there is a museum to check out. Take some time during your summer to do some relaxing things that can represent a vacation of sorts.

Exercise. Walk, run, swim, jog, play softball, golf, rediscover tennis—whatever. For may students, an exercise routine often gets put on hold during the academic year because of the press of work. Summer can be a time to reconnect with physical activities you enjoy.

Eat well. Summer also signals the return of fresh fruits and vegetables to farm stands and markets. It’s always a good idea to eat food in season and to eat fresh food. It’s hard to beat an ear of fresh corn or a tomato picked recently from the vine. If you spent your college year eating a lot of fast but filling cafeteria food, your body will thank you if you spend the summer enjoying good fresh produce. You might even learn to cook or to try some new recipes, which can also serve as a stress reliever.

Well, this is a short list of stress relievers that you can consider as you ease into summer. I’m sure you can think of others to add to this list—anything that is pleasant, relaxing, and different from your usual grind can be a way to de-stress. So, take the time and try one or two things. Happy summer!